« PreviousContinue »
rule. * And the curious disputes of Alexander and Arius about it, gave occasion unto that many-headed monster of the Arian heresy which afterward ensued. For when once men of subtle heads, and unsanctified hearts, gave up themselves to inquire into things in finitely above their understanding and capacity, being vainly puffed up in their fleshly minds, they fell into endless divisions among themselves, agreeing only in an opposition unto the truth. . But those who contented themselves to be wise unto sobriety, repressed this impious boldness. To this purpose speaks Lactantius, lib. 4. De vera Sapient. Quomodo igitur procreavit ? Nec sciri a quoquam possunt, nec: narrari opera divina ; sed tamen sacræ literæ docent illum Dei filium, Dei esse sermonem.' How therefore did the Father beget the Son? These divine works can be known of none, declared by none; but the holy writings teach wherein it is determined, that he is the Son of God, that he is the Word of God. And Ambrose, De fide ad Gratianum. Quæro abs te; quando aut quomodo putes filium esse generaturum? mihi enim impossibile est;scire generationis secretum. Mens deficit, vox silet, non mea tantum, sed et angelorum ; supra potestates, supra angelos, supra cherubim, supra sensum, supra omnem sensum.--Tu quoque manum ori admove; scrutari non licet superna mysteria. Licet scire quod natus sit, non licet discutere quomodo natus sit ; illud negare mihi non licet, hoc quærere metus est. Nam si Paulus ea quæ audivit, raptus in tertium cælum, ineffabilia dicit, quomodo nos exprimere possumus paternæ generationis arcanum, quod nec sentire potuimus "nec audire ? Quid te ista questionum tormenta delectant?
* I inquire of you when and how the Son was begotten? Impossible it is to me to know the mystery of this generation. My mind faileth, my voice is silent,
and not only mine, but of the angels; it is above principalities, above angels, above the cherubims, above the seraphims, above all understanding. Lay thy hand on thy mouth; it is not lawful to search into these heavenly mysteries. It is lawful to know that he was born; that it is not lawful for me to deny; this I am afraid to inquire into. For if Paul, when he was taken into the third heaven, affirms that the things which he heard could not be uttered ; how can we express the mystery of the divine generation, which we can neither apprehend nor hear? Why do such tormenting questions delight thee?'
Ephraim Syrus wrote a book to this purpose, against them who would search out the nature of the Son of God. Among many other things to the same purpose are his words, cap. 2. 'Infelix profecto, miser, atque impudentissimus est, qui scrutari cupit opificem suum. Millia millium, et centies millies millena millia angelorum et archangelorum, cum horrore glorificant, et trementes adorant; et homines lutei, pleni peccatis, de divinitate intrepide disserunt ? Non illorum exhorrescit corpus, non contremescit animus; sed securi et garruli, de Christo Dei filio, qui pro me indigno peccatore passus est, deque ipsius utraque generatione loquuntur ; nec saltem quod in luce cæcutiunt, sentiunt.' 'He is unhappy, miserable, and most impudent, who desires to examine or search out his Maker. Thousands of thousands, and hundreds of thousands of millions of angels and archangels, do glorify him with dread, and adore him with trembling; and shall dirty men full of sins, dispute of the Deity without fear? Horror doth not shake their bodies, their minds do not tremble, but being secure and prating, they speak of the Son of God, who suffered for me unworthy sinner, and of both his nativities or generations; at least they are not sensible how blind they are in the light.' To
the same purpose speaks Eusebius at large, Demon. Evan. lib. 5. cap. 2.
Leo well adds hereúnto the consideration of his incarnation, in those excellent words, Serm. 9. De Nativitat. Quia in Christo Jesu filio Dei, non solum ad divinam essentiam, sed etiam ad humanam spectat naturam, quod dictum est per prophetam ; generationem ejus quis enarrabit? Utramque enim substantiam in unam convenisse personam, nisi fides credat, sermo non explicat; et ideo materia nunquam deficit laudis; quia nunquam sufficit copia laudatoris. Gaudiamus igitur quod ad eloquendum tantum misericordiæ sacramentum impares sumus ; et cum salutis nostræ altitudinem promere non valeamus, sentiamus nobis bonum esse quod vincimur. Nemo enim ad cognitionem veritatis magis propinquat, quam qui intelligit, in rebus divinis, etiamsi multum proficiat, semper sibi superesse quod quærat.' See also Fulg. lib. 2. ad Thrasimund.
But I speak of the person of Christ as unto the assumption of the substantial adjunct of the human nature, not to be a part, whereof his person is composed, but as unto its subsistence therein by virtue of a substantial union. Some of the ancients, I confess, speak freely of the composition of the person of Christ in and by the two natures, the divine and human. That the Son of God after his incarnation had one nature, composed of the Deity and humanity, was the heresy of Apolinarius, Eutyches, the Monothelites, or Monophysites condemned by all. But that his most simple divine nature, and the human, composed properly of soul and body, did compose his one person, or that it was composed of them, they constantly affirmed : Tớv θεού μεσίτης και ανθρώπων, κατά τας γραφάς συγκείσθαι φάμεν εκ τε της καθ' ημας ανθρωπότητος τελείως έχουσας κατά τον ιδιον λόγον, και εκ του πεφηνότος, εκ θεού κατά φύσιν υιού, saith Cyril of Alexandria. “A sanctis patribus aduna
tione ex divinitate et humanitate Christus Dominus noster compositus prædicatur.' Pet. Diacon. lib. de Incarnat. et Grat. Christi, ad Fulgentium. And the union which they intended by this composition they called ένωσιν φυσικήν, because it was of divers natures, and ένωσιν κατα σύνθεσιν, a union, by composition.
But because there neither was, nor can be any composition, properly so called, of the divine and human natures, and that the Son of God was a perfect person before his incarnation, wherein he remained what he was, and was made what he was not, the expression hath been forsaken and avoided; the union being better expressed by the assumption of a substantial adjunct, or the human nature into personal subsistence with the Son of God, as shall be afterward explained. This they constantly admire as the most ineffable effect of divine wisdom and grace : Ο άσαρκος σαρκούται, ο λόγος παχύνεται, ο αόρατος οραται, ο αναφης ψηλαφάται, ο άχρονος άρχεται, ο υίος θεου υίος ανθρώπου γίνεται, saith Gre- . gory Nazianzen, Orat. 12. in admiration of this mystery. Hereby God communicates all things unto us from his own glorious fulness, the near approaches whereof we are not able to bear. So is it illustrated by Eusebius, Demonst. Evang. lib. 4. cap. 5, &c. Oūrw δε φωτος ηλίου, μία και αυτή προσβολή όμου και κατά το αυτο καταγάζει μεν άστρα, φωτείζει δε οφθαλμούς, αφήν δε θερμαίνει, πιαίνει δε γην, αύξει δε φυτά, κ. λ. ---ει γούν ώς έν υποθέσει λόγου, καθείς ούρανόθεν αυτός εαυτόν παμφυής ήλιος συν άνθρώποις επί γης πολειτευοίτο, ουδένα των επί της γης μείνας αν αδιάφαρον πάντων συλλήβην εμψύχων oμου, και αψύχων αθρώατα του φωτός προσβολή διαφθαρησομένων. The sense of which words, with some that follow in the same place, is unto this purpose: By the beams of the sun, light, and life, and heat, unto the procreation, sustenation, refreshment, and cherishing of all things are communicated. But if the sun itself should come down unto the earth, no
thing could bear its heat and lustre; our eyes would not be enlightened, but darkened by its glory, and all things be swallowed up and consumed by its greatness; whereas, through the beams of it, every thing is enlightened and kindly refreshed. So is it with this eternal beam or brightness of the Father's glory. We cannot bear the immediate approach of the Divine Being, but through him as incarnate are all things communicated unto us, in a way suited unto our reception and comprehension.
So it is admired by Leo, Serm. 3. de Nativit. "Natura humana in Creatoris societatem assumpta est, non ut ille habitator, et ille esset habitaculum ; sed ut naturæ alteræ sic misceretur altera, ut quamvis alia sit quæ suscipitur, alia vero quæ suscepit, in tantam tamen unitatem conveniret utriusque diversitas, et unus idemque sit filius, qui se, et secundum quod verus est homo, Patre dicit minorem, et secundum quod verus est Deus Patri se profitetur æqualem.” Human nature is assumed into the society of the Creator, not that he should be the inhabitant, and that the habitation' (that is, by an inhabitation in the effects of his power and grace,
for otherwise the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily); “but that one nature should be so mingled' (that is, conjoined) with the other, that although that be of one kind which assumeth, and that of another which is assumed ; yet the diversity of them both should concur in such a unity or union, as that it is one and the same Son, who as he was a true man, said that he was less than the Father, or the Father was greater than he; so as be was true God, professeth himself equal unto the Father.' See also August. De fide, ad Pet. Diacon. cap. 17. Justitianus Imperator Epist. ad Hormisdam, Romæ Episcop.
And the mystery is well expressed by Maxentius, Biblioth. Patr. par. prima. “Non confundimus natu